It has finally been announced that our beloved Dr. Linda Becker has chosen to retire.
The vice president for Student Services will end her time of service with us after this year, and a committee headed by Union College’s president, Dr. Vinita Sauder, will search for a successor. This decision wasn’t made lightly, so I sat down with Dr. Becker to ask her why and learn a little more about the time she spent here at Union.
The reason for leaving? Pretty straight forward.
“Family. I have seven grandchildren and an aging mother, and it’s just time for me to give back to my family,” she told me. “It wasn’t an easy decision, and I feel blessed to do what I love for work.”
Dr. Becker became vice president for Student Services in 2001, returning to Union College after working as the Human Resources director at Andrews University. Prior to working at Andrews, she was at Union as the director of the Career Center. But, Dr. Becker was glad to be back at Union again in her newly created role.
“When I came to this position, there hadn’t been a dean of students in quite a while, with the head men’s dean taking most of the responsibilities. At the time it was Joe Parmele, and I don’t know how he did it—I don’t know I did it,” Dr. Becker said with a smile.
“We made this office and started the processes. It felt like a new world, exciting and fun, working with the college students. There were some trial and error situations, but it was fun working to intentionally help the students,” she shared.
Through the years, Dr. Becker has seen all kinds of events and situations unfold, some good and many difficult. I asked her for a memorable moment and she obliged.
“About ten years ago during an alumni or parent’s weekend, I was walking past Prescott Hall on the way to gym. From the second floor someone was blaring loud rock music, and people were stopping and staring. The deans were busy at the time, so I headed in, went up two flights of stairs, and managed to find the room. When I knocked someone yelled at me to come in, so I did. This guy was dancing around and having a good time, but the look on his face when I walked in . . . .”
We both laughed, and Dr. Becker finished her story. “We’re great friends now, but at the time it was the most unexpected thing that could have happened. It’s a funny memory.”
Another memorable moment happened last year after the ASB dodgeball tournament. ASB members had their own game afterwards, and one of the guys beamed Dr. Becker right in the face with a dodgeball.
“When he realized who he hit, he couldn’t believe it. I said to him, ‘Ooh, I’m going to get you now!’ and he was kind of afraid of me after that,” she chuckled.
When asked what her favorite moment at Union College has been, she couldn’t pick just one, but the top one is definitely graduation day.
“I love watching the kids walk across the platform. Seeing some of them and reminiscing how they’ve grown is great. I love to see my students succeed,” she shared.
I asked her if she had any plans for her retirement, and she listed traveling, writing, quilting, teaching Leadership and, of course, spending time with the grandbabies. As we ended our talk, she had some parting words for me and all of Union College.
“God has his hand on this institution, there’s no doubt about that. Union is a very special place and I will always love the faculty and students here.”
Graci Escobar is a junior English major with an emphasis on speaking and writing. She loves cats, napping, reading, cuddling cats, browsing independently unpublished stories, binge-watching Netflix, and petting cats. Born and raised here in Lincoln, Graci would love to see the ocean more than seven times and hopes to one day hug every cat in the world.